New Construction Report Card

January/February 2003
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2003 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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January 01, 2003
In order to make energy-efficient and comfortable new houses, California builders need to pay more attention to the details.
        Houses are getting more complicated these days, at least in California.Features such as cantilevered floors, interior columns, arches, and soffits complicate the work of the mechanical contractor and the framers, insulators, and drywall contractors,who should be striving for unified thermal,pressure, and moisture (TPM) barriers between conditioned and unconditioned space. Without a carefully installed contiguous TPM,the overall performance of the building will likely be compromised.Furthermore, the pressure to cut costs in the construction industry results in a lack of attention to problems that may be invisible to the homeowner,but critical to the overall house performance, such as low HVAC air flow and sub-par insulation installation.         In recent years, the California Energy Commission (CEC) has worked to improve the quality of residential construction by promoting the use of diagnostic tools and by developing protocols for efficient envelope and HVAC system design and installation.To further this effort, the CEC is sponsoring the Residential Construction Quality Assessment (RCQA) project, which involves detailed diagnostic testing on 60 new homes throughout the state. Geographically, these homes range from San Diego in the south to Mount Shasta in the ...

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